The Sunday Read: Special Paul Ryan edition

Like Meb, Geb and Mo, suddenly to runners Paul Ryan is a recognizable name in the sport. And, damn – if Ryan is to be believed – he may not have run a 2:03 or a 2:06, but back in the not-too-distant past when Ryan told a radio interviewer “That I was fast when I was younger, yeah,” Flash in the pan Flash Ryan said he ran a “two hour and fifty-something” marathon.

As it turns out, the Republican Vice-Presidential candidate on the Mitt Romney ticket ran a 4:01 marathon at the aptly named Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota.

It took some pinning down to find the result. Upon first hearing the claim, Runner’s World went to work looking for the results. The magazine’s Newswire editor Scott Douglas  couldn’t find them. He emailed, asking for clarification and met a blank wall. Finally, a Ryan staffer replied: “”His comments on the [radio] show were the best of his recollection.”

With terrific journalistic persistence, Douglas finally pinned down Ryan’s time. You can read Douglas’s scoop here: http://news.runnersworld.com/2012/08/31/paul-ryan-says-hes-run-sub-300-marathon/?cm_mmc=Facebook-_-RunnersWorld-_-Content-News-_-PaulRyan

Of course, two fifty-something, 4:01, not much difference, right. And, hey give Lyin’ Ryan a break: anyone could make a mistake and be forgetful. That’s the premise of a disgracefully apologetic New Yorker piece that bends over forward backwards to excuse the VP candidate. Nicholas Thompson’s blog post said that “Ryan got in a little trouble” for grossly exaggerating his time. Then, in what is a glib statement from Thompson, he writes that “Last night Ryan gave The New Yorker a statement…”, which is in fact the statement Ryan’s office gave to all media, not just exclusively The New Yorker.

Is that a lie? Well, maybe a bit of an exaggeration – just like Ryan’s time – but that’s okay, right?

From there, Thompson strings together an implausible bit of babble about how Ryan’s office would have tried harder to deflect any inquiries about the candidate’s time if he was lying. It’s all very unconvincing and may be read here: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2012/09/does-it-matter-if-paul-ryan-misstated-his-marathon-time.html

Thompson grandly concludes: “If there aren’t more fibs of this sort—if he doesn’t magically transform himself from the bottom half to the top four per cent in other matters—I’ll let it pass. If more fibs, in more interviews and speeches, are found, I’m going to think that he lied.”

Given that Ryan’s already showed a propensity to misstatement and hyperbole – Huffpo wrote: “This isn’t the first time Ryan has come under fire this week for stretching the truth. His RNC speech was chastised for misleading claims about Medicare and the 2008 closing of a Wisconsin plant.” – what Thompson thinks is irrelevant.

HuffPo’s story is here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/01/paul-ryan-marathon-time_n_1848715.html

Sure, it’s only a fib about a running time, so no big deal, right.

Well actually,with over 500,000 finishers in 2011 in just the marathon distance, runners form a large part of the electorate – and they are vocal too. Within hours of the news of Ryan’s marathon breaking, Twitter filled up with runners expressing their disgust at the hopeful VP candidate.

Someone opened a mocking Twitter account under the name of Paul Ryan Hall, while another popular theme saw runner’s posting their PR (Paul Ryan) time, which meant deducting an hour off of their true finishing time.

Ryan may have ran a stellar marathon in his own mind, but clearly with the stretching of the truth, he’s in danger of losing the political race.

(Apologies about tonight’s links, folks, but once again bitly’s link shortening service does not appear to be working.)

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About subthree

A multiple award-winning journalist, I'm currently a contributing editor with both Canadian Running and Canadian Cycling magazines. My articles have appeared in Explore, Canadian Geographic, enRoute, The National Post, The Globe and Mail, and many other magazines and newspapers. Formerly a competitive cross-country mountain biker, I switched to running in 2006. I've run seven marathons, qualifying for Boston five times (and which I've run once). Generally, I've placed or won in my age group in races, in distances ranging from five and 10 kms to half and full marathons. I've also taught spin classes at a number of leading Eastern Canadian gyms. Sub-three was a 2012 #Runchat finalist for Best Overall Blog.
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8 Responses to The Sunday Read: Special Paul Ryan edition

  1. Rob Jackson says:

    Nice one Charles. It’s good to have all these links in one story. It’s too bad that Paul Ryan, a man who is SO damn handsome, can’t seem to tell the truth.

  2. Ian cordner says:

    To a runner, especially one trying to BQ or even break 3 hours, it is a huge deal! My first marathon at 25 was in 2:59 and haven’t done it since. That was in 1975 and the closest I came to that was 2008 when I did 3:03! The fun was in trying to get there though. I doubt Mr. Ryan can claim that satisfaction.

  3. What can I say? I like your writing. Enjoyed the word strike-outs. Thanks!

  4. Ryan says:

    He’s a liar liar & his pants are on fire. BTW, I ran a 3 minute 5k last night. I mean, 23 minute 5k, my mistake. Have a great day Charles ! 🙂

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